The Kentucky House has adopted new boundaries for its 100 members, but not without some lawmaker grumbling.
The bill to redraw legislative boundaries passed the full house 83 to 17. Before the votes were cast, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told colleagues there was no intent to punish anyone or either political party.
“Everyone agreeing that it has to be done, it’s required, and this is a fair way to do it," said the Democratic House Speaker.
While several lawmakers argued these new boundaries are fairer than their earlier attempts, many still voiced concerns. Most came from individual lawmakers, upset over seeing their counties divided between several districts.
(From left) Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown; Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington; Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville; and Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, discuss legislation prior to the start of the day's legislative session in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
A House committee in Frankfort passed the chamber's redistricting plan Tuesday on a 25-4 vote with the support of many Republicans. The lone Democrat who voted against the bill was Representative Jimmie Lee of Elizabethtown.
The proposed map splits Hardin County among six districts, with only Lee's district--the 25th--remaining entirely within Hardin County.
"With the other counties involved, someone that would seek the seat living in Hardin County in these various districts will never have enough votes in Hardin County to ever win an election," explains Lee. "Basically, this map has precluded the northern end of Hardin County from ever having someone who lives there serve as their representative."
The bill is expected to easily win approval from the full House on Wednesday.
The House map pairs eight incumbents, four Republicans and four Democrats, against each other in elections next year. It varies quite a bit from a 2012 House proposal that pitted nine incumbents against each other, eight of them Republicans. That plan was thrown out by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
A Warren County lawmaker says he's waiting until new legislative maps are drawn before he makes any decisions about his future.
Republican Representative Jim DeCesare could be placed in a tough spot when lawmakers pass a redistricting plan at the end of the special session that began Monday in Frankfort.
A Democratic proposal would put DeCesare in the same district as fellow House Republican C.B. Embry, Junior, of Morgantown. DeCesare tells WKU Public Radio that he's not ready to decide whether or not he would seek re-election under those circumstances.
"Once there's final passage on a piece of legislation, I'll look at it and see where I need to go from there,” said the Rockfield Republican.
Monday is day one of what Kentucky lawmakers hope will be a quick special legislative session devoted to creating new redistricting maps.
Both Republicans and Democrats have unveiled proposed maps, and lawmakers from both parties have said they believe an agreement can be reached by Friday.
The latest redistricting effort has dragged on over a year, with one set of maps being thrown out by the state supreme court in 2012. That's leading some to wonder if Kentucky should consider creating an independent, non-partisan committee that would be in charge of drawing new legislative maps every ten years.
Daviess County Democratic Representative Tommy Thompson told WKU Public Radio it's an idea he'd consider.
"I certainly would not be opposed to looking at the possibility of having an independent commission actually do the redistricting itself, and I'd be surprised if we didn't have some bills that came up when we go back to the regular session in January that propose that," said Rep. Thompson.
Edmonson County Republican Representative Michael Meredith has said he would also consider the creation of an independent redistricting commission. But he says he would want lawmakers to ultimately have an up-or-down vote on any maps such a commission produced.